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Kings of the castle
Her head tilted slightly at the coolness of Jaxen’s tone. Usually she would have taken that one little word as submission, and while smugness might have upturned the corners of her lips, such an effortless victory would have ultimately been dissatisfying. But ice, not defeat, coated his tongue. Ori did not balk from his cold gaze, not in order to make a point of defiance, but in blunt fearlessness. She was not meek. Nor, as most women may have been, was she offended by his brusque manner. She found confidence more attractive when it was undiluted by baseless arrogance, but his refusal to play was still disappointing.

Apparently talk of snakes had eaten away at what remained of his sense of humour. There was no knife to his throat, so why be so honest if the subject cut so deeply? Because although his confession had been blasé, disparaging Jon’s question by virtue of it being so easy a thing to answer, it had clearly touched a nerve - and spilled lingering darkness into his countenance. She didn’t care for his woes, nor to be the nursemaid tending wounds by care of alcohol. But if another drink was going to wash out that bad taste and return some fucking levity, well, she was all for it.

"That’s better. Sweetheart."
His dismissal of her sarcasm dampened nothing of her caustic sense of humour. An amused hum of laughter accompanied the clink of ice into his glass, then a flood of vodka and squeeze of lime. She pushed the drink over to him, without tease this time, though her smirk was undiminished, edged playful and sharp. If she noticed the way he looked at her it blazed little in return, not with the way his attention wavered. He wasn’t the only one with an ego.

She’d expected Jon to press her for a more definitive answer, particularly as there was no arbiter to temper such a demand - and she’d been maddeningly vague. Perhaps he simply didn’t want to know. Either way made little difference. "Yes,"
she agreed, smile self-indulgently full of secrecy and amusement. She leaned in, nudged the bottle over the glass he’d placed back down, and topped it up without asking.

After she took her own card, ignoring the poignant looks between the two men – really, did they think she was blind? To Jon's caution she laughed; genuine amusement, for once, at least in part for the expletive coming so casually from someone like Jon. It might be valuable advice if she was the superstitious sort, but Ori took the rough with the smooth; she owned the consequences her actions earned, fair and ill alike. Truthfully it was in adversity she flourished, which was in part why she’d become disenchanted with the business that kept a roof over her head. She chose thrill over security, and at her most reckless picked it even over self-preservation. Though like anyone else she had limits, and hers bore a very specific face. Which was why she was here and not in a gutter somewhere.

"Better sorry than safe."

She pushed her card to the middle of the table.

Ori's Number

One simple word carried so much power. Given real power currently throbbed pain and joy across the inside of his skull, the metaphor was trite by comparison. But a flattened please wielded Oriena's hand as firmly as if Jaxen gripped her wrist and tugged her into position against her will. Satisfactory enough; for now.

The card lay against his leg, which was still laid across the other knee rather than perched on the table, he leaned forward enough to snag Oriena's cold gift off the table. Really? She couldn't hand it to him? And Jon gets a refill without so much as a smirk? Irritation ghosted his expression which he made little effort to hide when he shot her a look.

Probably best to not go down that line of thought. Lashing out with a temper was for children. Getting even was much more his style, and those things took planning, and planning took time. He was patient enough for that kind of payoff.

Before he could so much as sample Oriena's painfully wrought gift, the forces in the back of his head stood to attention. The rattle of a die pounded his eardrums, but Jaxen's gaze narrowed along the path of a spidery tangle of -- something. The same visible web that flickered in and out of view around Tony and Michael.

It shot past him. Close enough that he unconsciously leaned away from its path. Some innate fear told him that thing was the enemy of sanity; and as Jaxen preferred to hang onto what remained, it meant keeping a wary eye on the man forging it. There was no denying it then. Either Jon was in the same padded room as Jaxen, or he was a future member of Tony's cult. Question was, what to do with this information? He hadn't reacted to Jaxen's slip. What did that mean? Jaxen was spinning his wheels down a blind track, here. He couldn't stand the ignorance. That's it, back to Tony. It grated so painfully, he almost walked out right then. Until he forgot Tony's place was a sausage fest, and nothing cured ails like a good hard fuck, and right now, his favorite doctor was sitting right next to him.

Comments drew his attention back to the die, and it took a moment to transition thoughts. The roll came into focus and the loss registered. His ego deflated.

"You have GOT to be kidding me,"
he blinked none too happy with these turn of events, then flipped his card upright to reveal the losing number.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Yes. There it was, the reaction Jon was looking for as he tossed the die onto the table. From the corner of his eye he saw Jaxen lean away from the flow of spirit Jon had sent past him. He can see it. The weave had touched nothing, had done nothing, and it should have left no telling mark of its passing.

That presence Jon felt in Jaxen, there was no doubt now. He was in touch with the Great Spirit. Which also meant...follow the bouncing ball... Jaxen could feel the power within Jon as well. What an interesting turn of events indeed.

Jon let the flow of spirit vanish and looked down at the die he'd rolled. Five white pips showed -- He turned his card over which he would keep -- a 20. He'd won the second round -- and he chuckled at Jaxen's bemoaning his loss. Oriena, having neither won nor lost, would get to determine whether Jaxen's fulfillment of Jon's demand was satisfying enough.

Jon turned to Jaxen and studied him. With the power coursing through him, he gauged the resonance he felt in Jaxen, and found he could determine the man was holding a fair amount -- about as much as Jon could safely hold for the time being. "Fortune is a whimsical and unforgiving mistress,"
he said to Jaxen.

Had the two men been private, Jon would certainly have asked him about what he knew of the Great Spirit. As it was, though, that elephant in the room would have to sit down and wait itself out.

Jon glanced around. There was a section of hardwood floor laid out in the establishment near the bar, apart from the stage, where couples could dance if they so chose to, and that gave Jon an idea. The man's pride had certainly lost its edge. Jon wondered how much further he could push that, and if some balance could be restored. Talk of his fears appeared to have put Oriena off a bit. Although -- considering how she continued to demand pleasantries and courtesy be drawn out of Jaxen, while filling Jon's own glass without even being asked -- perhaps a demand that included her cooperation would just give her another arrow in her quiver.

Or maybe not. Depended on how good Jaxen was on his feet. Jon had gotten Oriena to describe what made her happy, with a suitable partner leading -- and enough skill on Jaxen's part -- he might be able to achieve something like that on the floor.

"Not all communication between two people need be spoken,"
he said. He met Jaxen's eyes -- yes, he was definitely aware of the elephant in the room. "I have been told two dancers speak their own language on the floor. You have drinks, a floor, music that can be cued up, and a fine young companion here. Why don't you ask Oriena for her partnership in a dance?"

Since Oriena would be the judge and whether or not she accepted was entirely up to her, Jon sipped his drink and settled back in his chair before adding: "And he must ask you in a way you will find as an acceptable way to be his partner, and it's up to you whether he's done a good enough job on his feet."

Jon took another sip and turned back to Jaxen, wondering which of them he'd given the advantage to.
Jaxen followed Jon's line of sight to the open area. A burlesque house was a far cry from a dancing club. Few couples came together, and Jaxen doubted few couples truly left together. There were plenty of shitholes around the red light district for that kind of sport. For the guys not willing to play the game, there were plenty of places that delivered. Almost as handy as take-out.

The ridges of a frown downturned his mouth. The stage beyond transitioned from one occupant to the next, and Jaxen just knew that Jon was on the verge of bending him over the ledge and fucking him dry. Grotesque imagery of pointe shoes, spandex body suits, and pirouettes spun through his head. He closed his eyes and looked down. This was not worth--

Surprised, Jon's oration pulled him back, and once more his gaze narrowed while deciphering the cryptic speech.

Fuck me sideways. Jon wanted him to beg Oriena for a dance? Was this the Dark Ages? Ballet would be better than this.

His eyes rolled off Jon and back to Oriena.

Alright. Jaxen was a charming guy. Pretty damn good looking too, with the tousled hair, smirking lips, and long elegant hands. Oriena didn't strike him as the kind of girl into roses, poems and spooning. She didn't like being treated as arm candy. And she clearly wasn't here to work for tips. How the hell to ask her to dance.

Studying her, an idea took flame, and a curl of a smile touched his lips. Fuck it.

He pushed to his feet. Pieced his hair a little. Then flicked a few invisible specks from each sleeve. He stretched and made a bit of a show of showing off his silhouette, slender and elegant. The sort of shape that slithered into crawl spaces and shimmied up repelling ropes with ease.

Without saying a single word, he turned and snaked his hand around Oriena's palm and pulled her to her feet. Intending to lead her away before giving her the chance to protest.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
Jon took a sip of his drink and saw Jaxen's eyes narrow at his demand. Truthfully, it hadn't been so much a demand as a challenge, and a strange one at that -- not only was Kallisti's hardly a dance club, but the whole notion of couples dancing was indeed somewhat archaic, even back in the United States where traditions tended to gasp their dying breaths a little while longer than elsewhere in the world.

Additionally, Oriena hardly seemed the type to entertain the notion of being swept across a ballroom floor, but that just made the challenge all that much more interesting. As the judge in this round, she could also put a stop to the whole thing if Jaxen balked.

Yes, certainly an odd and possibly quite silly demand. But, of course, Jon had drunk a lot, and so he found the notion of them dancing together to be quite amusing -- if Jaxen could pull it off. What could he say to get her to accept? Yes, a very complex challenge, requiring boldness and cunning. Was there boldness behind those eyes -- undoubtedly swimming with the power of the Great Spirit -- or was the smug arrogance just a flimsy facade?

Jon saw a semblance of a smile flash across Jaxen's face as he looked to Oriena, and suddenly the man rose and wordlessly plucked her from her chair.

Brilliant. Now that was a display of true confidence. After all the subtle flirtation and posturing the two had displayed toward each other like deaf people playing chess in the dark, Jaxen had finally made a move. And just because Jon had pushed him into it didn't detract from the fact Jaxen was clearly unafraid to put himself out there and risk being shot down.

Jon took another slow sip of his vodka. He really hoped Oriena didn't just shoot him down on the spot. If Jaxen was any good, she'd enjoy the experience.
Oriena watched the die fall with only passing interest; she hadn’t yet internalised the consequences of each number, so the tumble and final rest didn’t hold as much tension as it might. It needed translation. As it turned out she hadn’t lost, though neither had she won – which left her oddly dissatisfied. She sat back with her drink, content to watch the next round of dares, faintly entertained by Jaxen’s reaction to having lost. Again. Then Jon’s forfeit prompted the rise of her brows, glass still pressed to her lips in contemplation. Not what she had been expecting, though in hindsight the demand fit his eccentricity. Those old coin cufflinks. His wordy expressions. It was fucking archaic.

She leaned forward to place her drink back on the table. “You’re funny, Jon.”
Her voice was utterly deadpan, pierced with accusation that did nothing to clarify in which sense she meant, though her expression betrayed amusement; if she was being insulting, it was not meant to cut.

Ori didn’t expect much from Jaxen; not for a dare like that. She wasn’t exactly impressed herself, though probably not for the reasons to be expected. It was Jon’s phrasing that did it; she could almost feel the whisper of strings about her wrists, though Jon’s was a subtle manipulation. One gentle tug, the suggestion of a direction, but he was happy to see how things unfolded from there. He’d been watching them, before, and now the numbers and dice gave him a pretext to interfere - and so far a run of luck that had made his voyeuristic show an interactive one. He was toying with them. Of that Ori didn’t quite know what to think.

Her gaze slid back to Jaxen, and her attention followed. His preening elicited a discouraging smirk, and a momentary edge of scorn to the way he framed himself irresistible. So unnecessary. Physical attraction was not in question, and he knew it. Large egos sometimes hid insecurities that fed bloated on self-boasting, the kind she usually enjoyed dismantling. Not that she didn’t look, of course; a show needed an audience, and she was buffered by enough alcohol to sedate the urge to be contrary for its own sake, to enjoy the display that was, for the moment, for her own benefit. Because there were games, point-scoring, conflicts of power. There was also just getting what you wanted.

Words were Ori’s weapons, so he probably made a wise gamble in bypassing any question that would have left a decision for her to toy with. Not that she wouldn’t have made a suitable plea worth his effort. Eventually. She could have pulled back from him; insisted upon terms that would no doubt have stoked his brief flashes of irritation from a simmer to a blaze. Could she press him that far? It offered a tempting invitation, to find out. Oriena wasn’t beyond petty cruelty. But she also had her own interests in mind.

There was no hesitation. She rose fluidly to the tug of his hand, as elegantly as if it’d been rehearsed. A pleasant rush of intoxication heated her senses as she stood, sharpened by the hold she maintained on the power – which she should probably drop, though she didn’t. “Not even a little bit of begging?”
A false heaping of petulance coated the words, an exaggerated air of disappointment. It was the closest to approval she would offer for his boldness, other than the fact she followed; and more than that, she let him lead.

Whatever potential Jon saw in a bit of undesignated space, it wasn’t an intended dancefloor. They were certainly going to draw stares, not that such bothered Ori; she lapped up the attention, good or ill, and given half a chance would spin the inane dare into something worth watching.
<small>[[Lots of moding of Oriena here.]]</small>

Jaxen was not inclined to make a fool of himself without good reason. As he walked the owner to the center of her establishment, he was firmly aware Kallisti's was not Manifesto. The only dancers here were the ones peeling away their clothes.

They drew eyes alight with curiosity. Oriena's dress bounced light like it were sewn with the dust of diamonds. A flat-chested disco ball. Not that there was anything wrong with that. Flat chests usually meant a bony ass, and there was something special about the way his hands wrapped around the jutting ridges of the hips of women with bony asses.

He paused on that open space Jon was calling a dance floor and pulled the arm of his companion around to face him. A tall thing, she was. Another point in her favor. There was also something special about the way long legs of tall women wrapped around his hips.

The smirk of a vivid imagination faded as the task came into focus. Normally, Jaxen welcomed all eyes on him, but he did not appreciate the glares and curses from those telling them to get out of the way. Not that he blamed the poor drunk bastards. They were blocking view of a scantily clad flamingo dancer.
Jaxen asked Oriena and kicked a nod at the feather headdress as the woman wearing it spun off stage.

"I need to class this place up,"
he shot Oriena a wink and went about the all-pleasant task of rearranging his own clothing. First, shoes and socks came off. Then the tie loosened and popped off his neck. Finally, he untucked and unbuttoned the shirt so it draped down his sides open at the front. The material was lighter than it looked, the sort to catch the air and billow slightly as he moved. Between that and the stage's backlighting, which he signaled to the stage crew to crank up, he should cast a rather nice silhouette. He heard an anonymous groan of disappointment when he stopped there, but the devilish grin on his face didn't blame the bemoaner's disappointment. Quick work of his Wallet sent a song choice to the system, and he deposited it alongside the rest of his belongings, signaling to Jon to keep an eye on the pile of stuff.

He hopped up to the stage with all the ease of someone used to scaling walls without so much as a handhold. Then turned to help Oriena without making her flash the crowd bits that Jaxen was reserving for his eyes only.

The performance area itself was small by theater's standards, but not too different from what accommodated the usual ballet recital.

Hands on his hips and eyes narrowed to peer through the lighting, he regarded the room. They certainly had everyone's attention.

If he was going to do this, he was going to do it right.

As he pulled Oriena close, his head built up the fourth wall between them and the audience. He hadn't realized it until her palms were laid upon his body that he'd been doused with goosebumps from stomach to throat that refused to back down. Between the fire coursing within, it was like Oriena's ice cubes sizzled and melted with her every touch. It was kind of obscenely addictive. As the music started, a final thought was given to the topic. Why was he the only one affected? The air wrapped with stage lighting was stifling as a sauna. A bead of sweat already formed in the small of his back. So why the chill? Bastard Tony better not have lied. If this was the Sickness again, he'd rather not end up in another rape dungeon.

The instrumental at the opening of the song was a high key piano followed by the trance-like strumming of a guitar. A dance like this had to match the story of the music, so to partner the tale building up in his head, of two people begging for one another, he slid one heel back and stretched near to a full split as his pants - and cool hamstrings - would allow. That is, inches from the floor. Oriena bent, chasing after her sinking partner, but before she captured his face in her palms, his spun and curled out of her reach--a panged look on his expression as the lyricist and full beat of the band amplified.

Fuck choreographers. A touch here; a push there, a nudge and pull and tug. He led Oriena around like she were on the beck of call of his fingers and eyes alone. The character of their dance might be of forbidden romance, but Jaxen was keenly aware of exactly who led who. And he liked being in charge.

Oriena was languid and accommodating. Though clearly Jaxen was the only one of the pair with any formal training. Even if it had been .. a while, he wasn't too hindered. The choreography of a master thief was not much different than the artistry of a dancer, and Jaxen was a talented thief.

Crouched low, he suddenly exploded into a series of jumping steps that accompanied the upbeat tempo of the chorus. The allegro ended with the gesture of one leg extended far behind him, his hips and spine likewise arched backward. It was a harsh, but beautiful move, implicating the character's suffering. Which meant it was time to return to his partner. He summoned her by catching her eye. From arms wrapped longingly around her ankles, his palms slid up the contours of her legs as he pushed to stand. His cheek pressed to her chest as he held a delicate object likely to break under his crushing grip. Through the heat of the Power, he heard her heartbeat swell in speed.

Breathing heavy and sweating with exertion, the goosebumps persisted. The curiosity of such notation momentarily crossed his expression before it blanked out of focus once more.

He manipulated her away once more. Coming and going. Teasing and giving in. The music amplified with crescendo, and on point with lightness, rapid footwork carried Jaxen away from inflicting any more of his irresistible spell upon her wearied soul. His head thrown back, he landed once more on his knees, and the slickness of his pants on the stage added another half-spin to the velocity of the move. Shit he was going to be sore tomorrow.

But he didn't remain there long enough to come to a full stop. A rather gymnastic-like explosion popped him to the points of his feet and he rocketed into the fullest, arms bent, and toes pointed ballet-like move of the dance thus far. A four-seventy degree spin landed him facing away from Oriena.

His shoulders sank, but upon her touch, he turned, crouched to one knee and cradling her neck, he lowered her body across his leg until she lay on the floor completely at his mercy. Oriena was going to flay him alive for this next move. But he smiled anyway.

One leg pitched straight and he threw himself over her body. Held aloft by palms and the points of his toes alone, he lowered slowly until his lips were pressed to the curve of her neck. Hopefully she didn't knee him in the balls and shove his ass off her.

Edited by Jaxen Marveet, Sep 29 2013, 06:52 AM.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
An uncommitted shrug answered his criticism of her dancer’s attire. Such decisions had little to do with her anyway, and no defensive wall defended her obligation to Kallisti; the place was popular for a reason, whether one rich bastard in a city of rich bastards agreed or not. Neither did she pay much mind to the disgruntled calls of those whose view they blocked. She watched Jaxen; or, more specifically, she watched him begin to strip. Little surprise registered on her expression, a skilful mask that refuted being caught off guard. Even if she was.

Her gaze lingered on his bare feet, though made a languorous trail back up to his face. You’ve got to be joking me. Dancing in a strip-club was one thing; what she was rapidly beginning to suspect he had in mind was quite another. It wasn’t her fucking forfeit, after all, and despite her ownership of Kallisti she was and had never been among its stage attractions. Audacious fucker, wasn’t he.

Ori was a sucker for that kind of bullshit.

Cold delight lit the diamond cut of her gaze, if you looked beyond the hands she had planted on her hips and an intensity to her manner that suggested displeasure. It was his wink that settled the brief flash of ire – not that even then she would have backed down from a presented challenge. Whatever her thoughts though, good or ill, she remained silent.

At Jaxen’s direction, the stage crew looked dubious askance at Karmen, who in turn glanced at Ori, face hard and full of what the fuck are you doing? Of course that only sharpened her desire for this stupidity further, and finally carved a darkly devious smile from her smooth expression. A permissive tip of her shoulder relayed the message back, and Karmen must have relented because the lights adjusted like Jaxen had been the one to call the shots.

Oriena was game. Walking blind into the unknown offered a persuasive thrill, one she had absolutely no intention of denying – even at cost, and even if it meant putting faith in someone like Jaxen. She’d not be forgiving if he made her look foolish, and she didn’t entirely trust that he wouldn’t, but that kind of self-preserving restraint was not in her nature. She preferred revenge to caution. And the power blazed a trail of invincibility only fuelled by the alcohol she had consumed; a potent armour.

On the stage she retained her hold on that power. She was being needlessly reckless, and somewhere in the back of her mind Cara’s warnings rang a distant echo. But if there were another in here with the same gift, she would have sensed it; and she was only holding it, not using it. There was nothing to betray her, and it galled her to hide from phantoms; she would let go because she wanted to, not because she had to. When Jaxen tugged her in, breaking the spell of those thoughts, her palms lay against the flat of his stomach, and the thumbnail of one hand scored a faint trail against his skin.

Oriena was not shy. Confidence wrapped the most mundane of her movements, and the watching eyes of the audience, though she paid them no heed, brushed at her skin like kisses. Her body was a tool, one she made full use of when mood or motive suited her. Charming a man to bed was not difficult; the kick was in captivation, in wrapping attention so tight it never strayed. Men were such visual creatures, and Ori was accustomed to getting what she wanted; who she wanted. Pandering to the desires of an audience - an audience in her club – was little different. But she wasn’t a dancer - certainly not in the way it quickly became apparent Jaxen was a dancer, and it left her utterly at his mercy. If Jon’s strings were whispered and metaphorical, then Jaxen’s stung tight and forceful. Necessary control, granted, because without it she’d have been cast adrift. Didn’t mean she wouldn’t even the score later, though there was an undeniable allure in the domination. In hands that knew exactly what they were doing.

No dancer, and no acrobat either. An actress, though; that deception was like a second skin. She caught onto the story quickly enough, aided by recognition of the song he’d chosen, and she sank into the role effortlessly. No inhibition marred her performance; no half measures. Raw lust. Desperation. Regret and pain. Aggressive hunger. Tender longing. Her grip on the power honed her sense of timing, and she reacted intuitively to his cues. Not that it was entirely fabrication on her part; not when he crawled inch by inch up her body, every touch against flesh amplified a thousand fold. She was dying for retribution. Or maybe reciprocation; the vodka hazed that part.

The tease and surrender continued, until that final move. Ori could feel the warmth of his breath against her neck, the slick heat of his skin, the shadowed promise of weight if he lowered a little further. A low vibration of laughter left her throat, almost a purr. She imagined he would be smiling, the predator allowed so close to her jugular. “Fucker,”
she murmured, half accusation, half playful submission. The shades of power-wrought fingertips marked a path down his chest like nails; she didn’t suppose he’d notice her hands hadn’t moved, not until a few moments later anyway, when, on point with the music, her fingers tangled into the fabric of his pants and urged his hips down.
Jon sat with his drink in hand as he watched the spectacle of Jaxen and Oriena intertwining about the stage. Great Spirit, the man could dance. And, as Jon had suspected, Oriena seemed a more than willing partner. He'd had a feeling she'd enjoy herself -- who wouldn't when led into poses that sculpted the innate beauty of the human form? Or at least that looked like what was going on.

The dance had ended, Jaxen's lips scraping her neck, and -- oh, how interesting -- a tug at his waist to pull his thighs in toward hers. Such a subtle move but so blatant at the same time. Jon wondered whether he should go settle his tab and leave the two alone.

He glanced down at the tumbler in his hand. Well, he could at least finish this drink first.
His mind worked twelve steps ahead of his limbs. Which was nothing new, of course. Evil genius and all.

The look in Ori's eyes reminded Jaxen he was playing with fire, but he swept his hands fearlessly through the flame. Pleasingly, she came and went at his beckoning. More, she fit in the story of their choreography like a second skin.

Every twist and bend reminded him how much he despised his childhood. Most of it anyway. The svelte man carousing around the stage now was the product of a society mother. Moscow ballet dancers were the city's proud athletes. Those of the stage were sculptures of humans, gods, not men to be judged effeminate. If anything, every time his palms cupped places on Oriena's body he might not otherwise have access, Jaxen was reminded they may in fact be geniuses.

Mom always said someday he'd appreciate those eight years. Turns out, the moment Ori hungrily drew his weight upon her, he decided every single torturous hour on his toes was worth it.

The song ended, but Jaxen was deaf to the audience's reactions. Short of booing them off the stage, which would be quite rude, his entire world consisted of the sickle of a collarbone, the circle of a mouth, and the dare of pale eyes.

They were a provocative combination of steam and ice. His shirt clung to his back, but Ori's fingers glazed painful nails down his chest. He couldn't help but smile at her insult, mind instantly twisting her words to his own mood. "Is that a request?"
he mouthed in her ear.

Jax hovered there a moment long, panting, and letting himself enjoy Ori's gripping desire. She wanted him. No, needed him. At that moment, with all the guilty intensity of a trickster caught red-handed at his game, the triumph of the night would be Oriena's nibbling a single word on his ear, begging: 'please'. He had chills just thinking about it.

Or maybe the chills were there all along.

He hopped nimbly from the stage without so much as addressing the audience. Or helping Oriena to her feet. After all that work, he deserved a break. And she had two arms and legs -- very flexible ones -- to get herself up.

Shit tucked under one arm, he ended up back at his table, glistening with exertion and smirking until the realization his cold drink was now watered down vodka momentarily turned down his mouth. Thankfully, Jon had a mostly full glass in easy reach. And Jax was a master at sweeping a drink out of someone's hand. And women off their feet, apparently. Or taking pretty much anything he wanted before they could protest.

"No contest,"
he smirked approvingly, toes waggling on the cold tile playfully underfoot. "Round three?"
He asked both players, brows lifted suggestively.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."

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